Shanghai’s French Concession



I have a few more stories about Shanghai. I figured everyone is on vacation mode now. And since we’re staying home for Easter (we always do), I have time to clean up and catch up on some stories. This is about one of my favourite areas in Shanghai – the French Concession.

Our first few days, we maximized whatever we could see and learn about the French Concession. We thought we had seen all there is to the French Concession when we visited Tianzifang. But my husband was still determined to see more of the tree-lined streets and quaint shops – those of the not too touristy kinds. We met up with my friend Lylah Juinio, who’s been an expat living in Shanghai for many years. She took us around the area she lives in.


We met at this very westernized cafe. Everyone was from somewhere else.


We went for a walk in her neighbourhood. It reminded me of New York.


The French Concession was established on 6 April 1849, when the French Consul to Shanghai, Charles de Montigny, obtained a proclamation from the Governor (Daotai) of Shanghai, which conceded certain territory for a French settlement. (Wikipedia).


While the French Concession began as a settlement for the French, it eventually attracted residents of various nationalities. (I’m skipping a lot of history here.)


This is the Paris of the East.


Click “More…” for the rest of this Shanghai story.


East meets west.


Cured meats.


Freshly steamed dumplings.


Loving the sycamore trees.


It was a quiet Sunday afternoon.


Lylah took us to this tiny little shop that sold local sneakers which were apparently a big hit amongst European hipsters. It’s a French brand that originated in Shanghai – Feiyue.


It was so tiny. And it was just what I needed – sneakers. They were so cheap. Really cheap. Much cheaper than the published prices on any website. Patrick and I got two each.


The Feiyue shoes came wrapped in a brown paper bag. (I bought the red high cuts.)


We really enjoyed that walk through the French Concession. It was nice to see the westernized part of Shanghai, where most expats lived. I loved the pedestrian culture – cafes, quaint boutiques, antiques shops. No major brands here.

On our first day, Patrick and I explored another part of the French Concession – Xintiandi, a pedestrian entertainment and shopping complex situated in old row houses. This area was more gentrified and centrally planned.


Sycamore trees


Some old homes were converted into shops.


One of the corners at Xintiandi. Using an Olympus art filter.


Xiao Long Bao in Din Tai Fung. A must.


Please don’t hate me for making you hungry. These dumplings were the best!


While walking around Xintiandi we stumbled upon the Shikumen museum where they recreated what a shikumen house would have looked like from the inside.


At a separate visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning museum, I got to learn more about the shikumen houses and the government’s efforts to save and convert whatever’s left of them.


A scale model of the Xintiandi redevelopment.


I’m a sucker for courtyards. I just love them.


Desk in the main study, looking out into the small courtyard.


Very interesting exhibit. Go visit this if you’re already in Xintiandi – Shikumen Museum.


I love this courtyard of shikumen house



All photos taken using Olympus PEN EP3



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